A Rescue Reunion.
Kito de Pavant is among the top seeds in Class40 with his Made in Midi. No doubt when he set off on his first big oceanic race since his Southern Ocean rescue by the Marion Dufresne memories of his keel problems after hitting a whale would have been hard to supress. The skipper from La Grande Motte near Montpelier remains eternally thankful that, by sheer good fortune, the Marion Dufresne was only 60 or so miles away.
The popular de Pavant welcomed the supply vessel’s captain to Saint Malo, Thierry Dudouit, for a quiet lunch and to see over his Class40. The captain recalled:
"What impressed me the most was how calm Kito was. We arrived in the area in the early evening and I felt that the conditions of his rescue would be terrible in the darkness. In a VHF conversation with Kito, he immediately assured me that he could last out the night without any problem.”
With a wry smile Kito gives his side, " That was just the thing to do then. In practice, I was really angry at the prospect of having to leave my boat. On board the Marion Dufresne the unfortunate stowaway de Pavant was given the best cabin on board the ship, the one reserved for the Prefect of Southern Islands. It was a tiny compensation after having lost his boat and then having to do the full tour of the islands: Crozet, Kerguelen, Amsterdam before returning to Reunion. "We rescued Kito on December 6th and dropped him off three weeks later in Reunion Island," recalls the captain Thierry Dudouit. Both skippers have not moved on, Kito back into the Class40 and Dudouit to a container ship but the bond between the two hardy seafarers is forever.
Rich Wilson Takes The Sea Air
The veteran American skipper already has two Vendée Globe races under his belt. He may have skipped around the docks of Saint Malo with the fervour of a teenager but at 68 years old Wilson was also in France to take see the cruiser racer he has bought. The former maths teacher from Boston took the opportunity to catch up with his many friends from the 2008-9 race and the 2016-17 edition.
"I am always impressed by the warmth of all these sailors. For me, it's a real privilege to be able to find them so relaxed and welcoming. This is where we realize the bonds between us sailors are deep and don’t get eroded by time or whatever level you may be at in this sport.
During his two Vendée Globes Rich Wilson made a huge effort to deliver an education and information programme to a truly global audience, interacting regularly with nearly one million youngsters, many of them in his native USA.
“ We must not forget that for many of my compatriots, the sea is thousands of kilometers away. This is why, during my Vendée Globe, I always took care to set up educational programs for the youngsters. But the culture at home in the USA is not very conducive to a human adventure like the Vendée Globe. The culture of winning is so prevalent in the USA that many solo racers feel like they could not compete unless they were in a position to mount a top, competitive programme. But the machine is not everything. You need a big, big budget to be able to compete with Armel Le Cléac'h, Alex Thomson or Michel Desjoyeaux. I am still convinced that the right approach is that of Alan Roura. He came with an old boat, demonstrated his talent and is now building up on that for his second participation. But, who knows? An American entry may yet come from those American sailors racing Class40s just now.”
Kojiro Shiraishi in Saint Malo
As he announced the news that he will build a new foiling IMOCA from the moulds of the new VPLP design Charal, Japanese solo racer Kojiro Shiraishi, backed by an industrial machine tooling company. So that he could give his new sponsors a taste of the pre start atmosphere before a big, big French ocean race, what better welcome on board than to bring key representatives to Saint Malo.
And, slightly predictably, the media pressure on Sam Davies (Initiatives-Coeur) and her partner Romain Attanasio (Pure Famille Mary) to talk about any ‘rivalry’ on the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe finally saw Attanasio and Davies put the matter off line.
"We had to refuse interviews, it became the too much of the main topic." says Attanasio. "That’s not right because I think Sam has real chances. The subject tends to overshadow everything else pretty much to the detriment of the sporting interest of our participation.”